Volume. XXVIII, No. 24
Sunday, 15 December 2013


What Child Is This? (Part I)


 

Introduction

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,

On Mary's lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,

While shepherds watch are keeping?

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear, for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.

This, this is Christ, the King,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;

Come, peasant, king to own Him.

The King of kings salvation brings;

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

So are the words to this beloved 19th Century Christmas Carol written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). The question is What Child is This? The question was obviously prompted by the events that surrounded Jesus’ birth. There is so much that could be said in answer to that question that if we were to attempt to respond adequately we would all die of old age before it could be accomplished. The apostle John commented on this when he said in the last verse of his gospel: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." (John 21:25) And 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “For unto us a Child is born…” (Isa 9:6a): This prompts us to ask another question: “Why must such a child be born?”

Why must such a Child be born?

The prophet, Isaiah, lived in approximately the 8th century BC and was a contemporary of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. According to the Talmud, the Jewish commentary to the Old Testament, he died a martyr under the hands of King Manasseh. His name in Hebrew means "The LORD Will Save" and is from the same Hebrew root yasha, "to save" as Yeshua or Joshua or Jesus. As the book of 1 Kings tells us, under King Solomon's son, Rehoboam, the nation of Israel had split into two kingdoms, Israel in the North and Judah in the South. As recorded in Isaiah 7:1-2, in the reign of Judah’s King Ahaz, an alliance between Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, threatened the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah 7:1 says: “And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it…” God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz, king of Judah, with the message that this threat would not last. Isaiah 7:4,7 “4 …Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah…7 Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” In fact, Isaiah predicted in 7:8 that Ephraim or the kingdom of Israel would cease to exist before 65 years had passed!! Why is Ephraim equated with Israel? Because Ephraim was the most prominent tribe in Israel and so was used for the whole. Indeed, within 65 years the Assyrian invasion of 721 BC and the forced resettlement of other peoples in the area in 672 BC fulfilled this prophecy! God also warned King Ahaz of Judah, "…If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established" (Isaiah 7:9). The word establish also means firm or to be steadfast. Does this not tell us something? Our temporal and eternal security is solely dependent on our having faith in the King of this universe who is sovereign of all things. Friend, have you placed your faith in your Maker and the Creator of this marvelous universe who not only created this world but is in control of everything in your life and my life? For, if we do not believe, surely our temporal and eternal outlook would be oblique or uncertain like a boat being tossed in the sea to and fro without an ultimate destination! It is something worthwhile for you to think about this Christmas season.

With this historical and political background in view, in Isaiah 7:10-16, we are told, in order to increase Ahaz' faith, God commanded Ahaz to ask for a sign, "Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above" (Isaiah 7:11). Ahaz humbly and piously responded, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD" (Isaiah 7:12). Is there anything wrong in asking God to give a sign? There was nothing wrong in this case because God told Ahaz to ask for a sign. In fact, the sign is not meant for Ahaz only, but for the entire house of David! How do we know? Notice how Isaiah switches from singular to the plural as he says, "Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?" (Isaiah 7:13). Ahaz perhaps thought in his heart: “Oops…I shouldn’t have said that. I should have asked for a sign.” Therefore, instead of just Ahaz, Isaiah addresses the entire line of David because of His Covenantal promise! This promise was long prophesied even immediately after the fall of man in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed (serpent’s seed) and her seed (woman’s seed); it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The woman’s seed is no doubt in reference to the child who would be born through a virgin. It is in this theological context, Isaiah prophesied, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa 7:14). What a wonderful and marvelous promise it was! This shows us how faithful and true God is as a Covenant keeping God.

The meaning of the word ‘virgin’

The word "virgin" is the Hebrew “al-mah”.  Some English translations render this word as "young woman" which is an unfortunate rendition. There are two Hebrew words for "virgin": “al-mah” and “be-tu-lah.”  Be-tu-lah” means “a grown-up woman” who is a virgin, and “al-mah” means a young woman who is a virgin. “Al-mah” is used seven times in the Old Testament: * in Genesis 24:43; Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:26; Proverbs 30:19; Song of Songs 1:3; 6:8 and Isaiah 7:14. How many times is this word used to refer “simply” to a young woman? None. All seven occurrences in the Old Testament refer to none other than a young woman who is a virgin. So, the translation “young woman” simply does not adequately convey the original Hebrew word “al-mah”. ……………..to be continued.

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

 

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Edwin D’Mello

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. Christmas cards, Bibles & books available at reasonable prices. Great for Christmas gifts!

*Session thanks the Christmas Concert Committee, participants, helpers & congregation for the weeks of preparations & rehearsals, & the Gospel-oriented Christmas Concert yesterday evening at Concordia College Chapel. Today’s fellowship lunch is a “thank you” lunch to all worshippers.

*Reminder: please do not leave your valuables unattended lying any where in the building.

*Next week’s Fellowship Lunch is also catered. Adult $5. Child under 5 years old: Free.

*Please note: Christmas Worship Service at 10.00 am. Christmas Fellowship Lunch at 12.30 pm. Please bring a dish to share. For details of what to bring for the lunch, please see Elder Lee.

 

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (KL); Bros Pirun Pech (Cambodia), Lucas Yiew (S’pore), Raymond Ang & Dylan To; & Sisters Mariam Atjitatuporn & Jayden (Thailand); Catherine Teng, Mary Ting & Serene Wong (Adl), & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Christmas Concert yesterday. Speaker, Organisers, participants, contributors & visitors

3. Church Activities, in the past week.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos) & Elton Law; Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Sylvia White & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Sis Ruth Ngoma (Post-op recovery); Grandpa Ki (Post-op recovery - S Korea); Bro Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).

3. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Julie Tan & family, & relatives.

4. Children’s Ministry: Rev Kevin Currell (Vic).

5. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

6. Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry (Sihanoukville); Khmer pastors & families.

7. Batam Missions: Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

8. New Life BPC (London) - God’s guidance.

9. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

10. Journey mercies: Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng & family (Robe/Adl); Sisters Xiao Hui Chye’s parents, Michelle Lee (Adl) & Megan Lim (S’pore); & others travelling.

11. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

12. Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Yashu Qin & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.

13. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam & Monica Tan

14. Final weeks of pregnancy: Sis Susan Weng (BP control, safe labour, delivery & health).

15. Salvation of visitors to Christmas Concert.

16. Godly Wisdom - those in authority in Government.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063